Rockland reconsidering pay-per-bag trash fee

Posted May 29, 2014, at 5:58 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Eight years after residents overwhelmingly repealed a pay-per-bag law, city councilors are once again considering such a fee for trash.

“The council believes that it is much fairer to all residents to have everybody pay based on the amount of waste they throw away and thus the Council is proposing to move away from the $65 for the year sticker,” Rockland Mayor Larry Pritchett said Thursday.

The proposal is being met with criticism from officials who led the petition drive in 2006 that overturned the council adopted pay-per-bag law.

Former Mayor Tom Molloy said the proposed approach is the wrong way to go.

“You will see a lot of people throwing their trash along the sides of roads. I guarantee it,” Molloy said.

He said he was not pleased that the proposal has resurfaced so quickly. The repeal of the law by voters in 2006 prohibited the council from considering it for the next five years.

Molloy said that he was not sure whether he would get involved in another effort to repeal the law if the ordinance is approved but that he would keep an eye on the proposal for now.

Voters overturned the law by a vote of 959 to 479. While there was no specific amount set in the 2006 law, the council was prepared to charge $1.71 for a 33-gallon trash bag.

Interim City Manager Tom Luttrell said this week that a fee of $2.10 per bag would be required to cover current transfer station costs.

Pritchett pointed out that commercial trash haulers pay $110 per ton to dispose of wastes in Rockland and that customers of those haulers are paying for that. He said requiring those homeowners who bring their trash to the transfer station to pay a per bag fee connected to the cost of disposal was fair.

No timetable for imposing the fee has been determined but Pritchett said it could be implemented in January or as late as May 2015.

Some surrounding towns pay a per bag fee. The Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corporation based in Rockport charges $2 for the larger trash bags. The corporation serves Camden, Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville.

Residents of Thomaston, Owls Head and South Thomaston pay $5 every two years for a dump sticker to use the transfer station in Thomaston.

The pay-per-bag proposal in Rockland was raised Wednesday night at a council budget review session. This follows a meeting two weeks ago when the solid waste director suggested doubling the sticker fee from $65 per year to $130. The city issues about 1,400 residential dump stickers each year.

The waste director’s proposal was not met with support by the council.

Dump stickers, which are good for 12-months, have been sold at the same $65 annual cost for four years now, according to Pritchett.

He said there were some bumps in the road during the start of the per ton fee for commercial haulers, but the fee system now works well.

 

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